Novak Djokovic endured a fierce challenge to his Melbourne Park reign before overhauling Dominic Thiem 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 on Sunday to clinch an eighth Australian Open crown and reclaim the world number one ranking.
While Rafa Nadal rules Roland Garros with 12 titles, Djokovic holds sway in the title match at Rod Laver Arena having never lost a final in Melbourne Park. Yet on Sunday the Serb was under siege for much of the thriller.
For the first time in eight Melbourne finals, Djokovic was forced to come back when trailing after three sets, rocked by the power and determination of Thiem.
But as he so often does, the Serb found a way.
He captured the decisive break in the third game of the final set, then held firm as Thiem made desperate assaults on his serve.
Going for broke in a nerve-shredding final game, the fifth seeded Austrian went for the lines but missed twice to hand Djokovic one of his most hard-earnt triumphs.
Four months after Nadal stopped Russian Daniil Medvedev in the U.S. Open final, the Serb’s 17th Grand Slam title continued the ‘Big Three’s’ reign over the majors.
Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer have now won 13 Grand Slam titles in succession, dating back to Federer’s 2017 title at Melbourne Park.